Social Innovation Camp for Children and Adolescents (2022)
Channelling Children and Adolescents’ Creative Capacity to Co-create Solutions for their Challenges.
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“We should not say this is someone else’s problem and let it go, we should work together with our friends to find a solution”, this is what Mahdi, a 10-year-old boy, a student from the city of Tabriz, thought after taking part in the Social Innovation Camp.
The Social Innovation Camp 2022 was co-organized by UNICEF and the Mustafa Foundation on the 9th and 10th of November 2022 in the Book Garden in Tehran, Iran. The 38 boys and girls who participated in the camp from 15 provinces were selected from the top teams in the 5th Noor Student Competition organized to promote the role of science and technology among children and adolescents to acknowledge the contributions of the Abu Rayhan al-Biruni.
The participants of the camp were divided into two main age groups: Group 1 (under 10-year-old) and Group 2 (10–18-year-old). Children in the first group were mostly focused on idea generation and fostering their creativity to address a predefined challenge and scenario to navigate in their group. Children in the group of 10–18-year-olds participated in the social challenge discovery phase which included the prioritization of challenges.
The adapted programming in the Camp enabled children across different age groups to engage in identifying social challenges as well as discussing and developing viable solutions in their peer groups under the guidance of their mentors. Furthermore, the focus of the Camp was to facilitate the transfer of skills including creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving to empower the children to think creatively, discuss alternative views, and co-create innovative solutions with peers for the challenges they face in school or their communities.
“In the Social Innovation Camp, we learnt how to identify the challenges we face in life and to present ideas to solve them. Participation in groups helped us to learn the Collaboration Skill and together find an easy and effective solution”, says Sarina (girl) 13 years old from Kermanshah
The Camp started with an initial orientation on what the Social Innovation Camp is about, examples of challenges that exist in society and the social innovations to address them. Then the children started identifying challenges they face at home, at school or in their local communities such as limited access to high quality education and education facilities; lack of participation and discrimination; sub-standard sanitation and hygiene; lack of motivation; untapped potential; economic and social problems; the issue of working children, etc.
The camp participants then started to learn about how to generate ideas, put them in perspective, and learn how to collaborate towards valid solutions to the challenge at hand.
“… We learnt about the six thinking hats and that each colored hat represents a perspective, for instance, someone with the black hat often has a negative opinion about the prospect of the idea but if they put the yellow hat on, they see the idea more optimistically;” says Alireza (boy) student from Tabriz
Finally, the subgroups developed their final solutions with the support of their mentors and presented them on stage. The solutions included a Reading & Play Application to foster book reading at school, an online school platform for talent discovery, a frugal food box design to share food with children and families in need of assistance in the local community, and a feedback mechanism in the form of a game to improve teachers’ performance.
The process is captured in the graphic above. The Camp was organized with the collaboration of the Noor Student Competition by Fanamouz and mentorship support from the Allameh Helli Institute, the Creativity Institute, and their network of young mentors. The efforts of Dr. Abed Abedi Jafari, Dr. Amin Nayebi, and Dr. Ali Ramezani as mentors and Ms. Maryam Ferdousi, Ms. Maryam Mohammadi, Ms. Somayeh Hosseini, and Ms. Nazanin Aghalou as facilitators of the Social Innovation Camp is highly appreciated.
UNICEF and the Vice Presidency for Science, Technology, and Knowledge-based Economy collaborate on promoting innovations for addressing challenges facing children and adolescents. The Mostafa Science and Technology Foundationhas founded "Noor Student Competition" for giving hope, creating identity and promoting science among the adolescents of the Islamic world to engage them in educational and scientific programs. By accepting 60-second scientific and educational films and celebrating their top works, the competition aims to get students to participate and captivate their interest towards science and technology. The international "Noor student competition" has been held annually in honor and memory of some of the most iconic figures of science and technology in the Islamic world.
To see the photo story of this event please see here.
 An Iranian scholar and polymath (973 – 1052 CE) known for his contributions in a wide range of fields including astronomy, mathematics, medicine, history, and geography.